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Why Are Security Cameras So Low Quality?

The video cameras that record the footage can be wireless cameras or hardwired but the hazy or blurry clips are still there. Why is that so?

The video or image quality has nothing to do with how expensive your surveillance cameras are.

It’s mainly because of the compressed final file which compromises the resolution, how the IP cameras are placed, and whether the camera lens is positioned correctly.

We will look into the details of the subject and discuss why we use security cameras in the first place and what a bad camera quality is.

Why Do We Use CCTV Cameras?

The answer to this question may seem apparent but it’s important to understand the latter.  Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are one of the first security devices we have ever used.

They help us stay secure, but they are also a source of evidence when it needs be. We usually use CCTV cameras to safeguard a large area like a parking lot or storage space.

We use surveillance systems to record and save the security camera footage if anything bad happens around our place.

But, what’s the use of these CCTV systems if they can’t even work with facial recognition or detect the license plates of a vehicle?

There are a dozen home security cameras available in the market today, but one issue that’s persistent throughout is the quality of the video footage.

These spots have a lesser amount of light exposure but many times the recording device doesn’t have the infrared light support.

Due to the lack of smart features, the video cameras produce poor picture quality and lower resolution videos.

The public often finds it difficult to identify a suspect who has a smudgy face in the recording. The bad guys don’t even look like a human in the first place.

If we talk about the old security cameras, they did have less technology, so the images are less sharp.

We have smartphones’ video capturing technology where we can see crystal clear views.

Although most real-time footage has the same “quality issue,” we still get to see some pretty good footage. But that’s still rare.

Security Cameras vs. Modern Cameras

The type of camera matters. The quality difference between videos for Security and modern smartphone cameras to the human eye is inevitable.

It’s important to know that they don’t have the same purpose. They have different designs to achieve specific tasks.

CCTV cameras capture movements. Unlike the modern cameras on phones, CCTV cameras aim at capturing movable objects.

They do not deal in static photography. It might answer the blurry quality as it does not specialize in style images.

On the other hand, a phone camera’s design is intended for high resolution or video quality for a particular target. It locks on the target and shoots the image like any other photo camera.

Security cameras record all objects and surroundings equally. Modern phone cameras are target-oriented.

The footage quality has improved over the past few years, as reported by experienced people. There is still much room for improvement.

As seen in movies, it is not practical in everyday life for agents to dramatically zoom in. on the video and sharpen it for better results.

Security systems usually have a wide camera field of view. They also have a limited focusing capability. With cheap wiring, the camera’s recording is sharp in the middle, but less focused on the outer edges.

The high volume of footage becomes the reason for compression, resulting in poor picture quality. It makes the video image quality grainy, lacking high resolution. Keep reading as we discuss why security cameras’ footage is so low quality.

Security indoor and outdoor cameras are designed for bulk recordings. Above 90% of these recordings are pointless, even capturing blind spots. It becomes costly many times.

Still, business owners consider using CCTV systems the best way to discourage criminals. They are fearful of the possibility of facial recognition.

6 Factors Restricting Surveillance Camera Quality

There are a few limitations of security video cameras. At the same time, you can also not avoid their importance in crime prevention.

The point is, why do we still have to use a bad quality camera? These are useful prevention tools for unauthorized attacks anyway!

Quality Of The Lens

Surveillance systems camera lens’ quality varies between 2.8 mm to 50mm. It depends on its usage. An average standard lens is 8mm.

The lens might be out of focus at times too. Additionally, the lens might be dirty, have water droplets on the glass dome, or the sensor might be defective. These issues can cause the light to reflect back to the lens and affect the image’s quality.

The security camera systems use two types of lenses:

  • Fixed focus lens
  • Varifocal lens

Each lens has its own quality and fits different purposes. Fixed focus lenses are adjustable and can be set to different frames as needed. While varifocal lenses focus on several focus points and cover the location from top to bottom.

Compression & Resolution

Your video files go through compression. The codec filters ’empty’ frames that may be irrelevant. Many traditional security systems cameras used to do it all by themselves (automatically). But these days, you can change your level of file compression as you need.

Camera’s Placement

Security devices capture a wider view. It is essential to save it from the weather effects, but it’s also crucial to keep it visible.

For the highest video quality that is possible, you should avoid pointing the camera at the sun. Experts recommend installing the recording device about 9 feet above the ground.

Camera’s Cost

Security cameras’ costs differ according to their usage and purpose. On average, they cost somewhere between $100 to $600. The price mainly changes depending upon individual and business requirements.

Camera’s File Format

CCTV cameras’ favorite open file format is the AVI file type. Many manufacturing companies make use of their AVI file and their codecs.

The version is non-standard in a digital video recorder. They can also use DVR, but the common reason for its lesser usage is its lack of flexibility, unlike AVI files.

Camera’s Cropping

HD video footage is cropped to only get the relevant pieces (clips) of information. Cropping involves moving, adjusting, and removing a few clips as desired for dimensions.

It focuses on specific areas you want to concentrate upon. The unwanted recordings may only create a mess of so many junk files.

Understanding Security Camera Resolution & Megapixels

The imager or sensor acts as an internal component of the camera. It consists of a grid of pixels that is called photosites.

These pixels capture the light entering the camera to record details through the lens. After recording, this information is moved to the camera’s processor.

More photosites, the higher the resolution of the footage. A bigger sensor has more photosites, and it captures more details than a smaller one. It results in higher quality imagery.

High-definition image quality and videos allow you to record in greater detail. The best quality video footage also lets you enhance your zooming ability after recordings.

Ultra HD cameras are the ideal resolution and the ultimate outdoor cameras for clear images. These devices are ideal for use in parking lots, stadiums, or crowded places to do video recordings of any criminal activity.

However, the products with high resolution generally cost more. Examples are 8MP and 6 MP cameras. Their recordings also take up more storage space. The best low-light night vision cameras are usually in the 4MP and 5MP range. They also capture digital signals in street lights.

Security Camera Resolution Chart

SizeMegapixelsRESOLUTION
HD (High Definition)1MP720p (1280×720) and 960p (1280×960)
Full HD2MP1080p (1920×1080)
Super HD or Quad HD4MP2560×1440
Super HD or Quad HD5MP & 6MP2560×1920 and 3072 x 2048
4K (Ultra HD)8MP3840×2160
Security Camera Resolution Chart

If you aim to buy a security camera, the above chart will help you make the right choice in terms of quality and storage.

Most of these cameras record the whole scene without changing the focus. But, it again depends on the lens you choose for the device. Furthermore, cropping, maintenance, and file compression also affect the security footage.

The Final Verdict

There are various reasons for the poor quality of video feeds of security cameras. Camera placement also plays a vital role in high-quality footage recordings.

Besides, the lens’ quality and the file format will also affect the overall video quality.

You should keep in mind while buying a security camera that the quality is still a secondary option. The footage is the primary reason and it does alarm the criminals.

The CCTV footage from low-resolution cameras looks blurry and grainy most of the time. It happens due to the camera’s limitations, common problems, and their capability to focus.

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